By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State had a first during its senior tackle practice on Saturday.
The workout, the final time MSU’s seniors would practice on campus, features each senior saying a few words to their teammates. For the first time ever though, a coach got involved.
Tony Hughes, the MSU safeties coach who was named head coach at Jackson State on Monday, was at practice for the first time since taking over at JSU. Following senior quarterback Dak Prescott’s address, the team chanted for words from Hughes. He obliged.
“We haven’t had a coach do that before, but he’s done a great job with this program,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. “He’s been with me since the beginning here and he’s as responsible as I am and all the players are for the success that Mississippi State has had as part of what we’ve done. He’s put an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears into making this successful and bringing pride to the state of Mississippi.”
The 56-year-old Hughes, who has been in coaching for more than three decades, had never been a head coach prior to Monday. As Hughes gets things in order in Jackson though, Mullen said the plan is still for Hughes to join MSU in Charlotte, North Carolina for the Belk Bowl later this month.
The situation remains fluid however.
“I think the plan is for him to come to Charlotte, but again, his number one responsibility has to be his program at Jackson State right now,” Mullen said. “If it works out, he’ll be with the team in Charlotte. There’s stuff that happens when you become a head coach, but I think he’d really like to be there and we’d love to have him there.”
Mullens host seniors
Mullen and his wife, Megan, hosted the MSU seniors at their home for dinner on Friday night. Mississippi State’s seventh-year leader said it was a time to think back on how far everyone has come.
“We’re a family here,” Mullen said. “These kids are all like your sons. I told them I’m so proud of everything they’ve accomplished. Every year, it’s kind of a neat deal that those guys get to reminisce about their time here. I kind of always think back to them sitting at my house on a recruiting visit five years ago as just some young kid. Now, they’re grown men walking out the door with a degree in their hand ready to go attack the world.”
Above all else, Mullen said the evening is about showing the guys his appreciation.
“It’s my opportunity to thank them,” Mullen said. “They believed in me and Megan and what our program is about. It’s just kind of a neat dinner. It’s the last chance for them all to be together at my house. It was a lot of fun.”
Bulldogs welcome signees
Earlier this week, a pair of junior college players signed on with Mississippi State. Copiah-Lincoln Community College cornerback Lashard Durr and defensive tackle Tre Brown each inked with the Bulldogs and plan to enroll in January.
“We’re very excited to have them,” Mullen said. “They are two guys that we knew a lot about in high school. I’m really proud of what they’ve done. You look and a year and a half later, they’re getting out of junior college. They went and took care of their business, not only in the classroom but also developed more as players from their high school days. We’re really happy with what they’ve done and excited to get both of them in here.”
Durr, originally from Harrison Central, had 32 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, nine pass break-ups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception this year at Co-Lin. Mullen said Durr could make an immediate impact with the Bulldogs.
“You have two senior corners walking out the door,” Mullen said. “To have Lashard come in as a corner and compete for a starting position right away, especially being able to go through spring practice, it’s going to be huge.”
Brown, a 6-foot-4, 270-pounder, has said he always wanted to play at Mississippi State. MSU was the only school to offer the Ackerman native. Like with Durr, Mullen said Brown will have the chance to quickly earn playing time.
“You look and we play a lot of guys on the defensive line,” Mullen said. “Tre Brown is going to have the opportunity to come in and compete right away and get in the rotation right away for us.”